tv NBC Nightly News NBC August 31, 2010 4:30pm-5:00pm PST
on the broadcast tonight, tracking earl. it's a big category four hurricane churning up the east coast and officials don't yet know who to warn as a big holiday weekend approaches. end of combat, the president's speech and his warning about what may lie ahead for america in iraq. the plague of bed bugs, they're now spreading all over this country. the question is, why this infestation now? and "making a difference" for kids this summer turns out to be an opportunity right up their alley. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
a special good evening to our viewers in the western u.s. tonight. president obama spoke on iraq a short time ago, we'll talk about that in a moment. first tonight, we have a very big hurricane making its way toward the united states. in this case, toward the east coast. the question is,where? and that's a big problem for a lot of emergency preparedness folks tonight. this storm has a potential 30 million americans in its path. we could see watches and warnings posted for a dozen or more states before it's over. we just don't know yet. and a ton of people have labor day weekend travel plans, beach plans, which could make for a very nasty combination along with hurricane earl. veteran hurricane specialist bryan norcross with us from the weather channel to start us off. bryan, i know there's a best case and a worst case scenario?
ron mott is standing by for us in kill devil hills, north carolina. the first watch was posted there on the outer banks, north carolina. interesting whether we're talking about best case or worst case scenario, just about every model has it doing something to the north carolina coast on its way by? >> reporter: good evening, brian, you're right, there's a lot of confidence here tonight that earl will behave itself and stay on the projected track away from the land here in north carolina. that does not mean people are taking this storm for granted. the surf is up thanks to hurricane earl, but the fun could be spoiled in coming days
as the storm threatens the shore line, potentially impacting tens of millions of americans. fema officials are prepping for the worst. >> any little deviation towards the west could mean the storm striking the coast or impacting the coast enough to require evacuation. >> reporter: already, earl has left painful marks in the caribbean, dumping water and debris in puerto rico and the virgin islands. today on the outer banks of north carolina, it was business as usual on the beach, with few signs of a category four storm brewing. >> i think everyone's riding the storm out, they think it's not going to be a big hurricane down here and they're not concerned. >> reporter: tourists may not remember, locals remember hurricane isabel in 2003, which pummelled the islands. causing more than $400 million in damage. >> we're always concerned about complacency, but we think for the most part, everyone, resident or visitor, is well aware what the storm means and what it can do. >> reporter: on the jersey shore, emergency management authorities are gearing up for a possible rough start to the
long holiday weekend. >> we need to be prepared. it is the last day of summer, people are going to want to come down, they've made plans. >> reporter: we're also getting prepared on long island, barrier island evacuations could be ordered as soon as tomorrow morning. >> we have 25 shelters we could put into place if need be. >> reporter: and new england, which hasn't had a hurricane as powerful as earl since bob in 1991, tensions are rising. >> i was here in hurricane bob. that took every boat that was left out there and threw them all up on the beach. >> from the looks of it, we're going to get some effects from it. we don't take chances. >> reporter: millions of residents on the east coast are being urged to go if and when evacuation orders are ordered. >> let's try bryan norcross again. the two tracks this storm could take? >> reporter: brian, real quickly, here's the story, it
approaches cape hatteras on thursday, the left-hand track would be the worst case, that would put major hurricane damage, life-threatening storm surge along the east coast from north carolina all the way to maine, the better case, of course, would be to keep the storm yofr shore, but still very dangerous boating, and beach conditions. no matter what, this is going to affect all of the east coast from the carolinas all the way up, and some very very difficult decisions are going to have to be made in the next couple days about evac u eights and what to do in a lot of vulnerable spots. >> we'll be dealing with this for the remainder of the week and following it closely. thanks. now to tonight's address to the nation by the president. his second oval office speech as president. barack obama, you'll recall, ran against the iraq war and tonight he made official what we watched on tv 13 days ago, the combat phase is over. the u.s. will pull out entirely by the end of next year. as he said earlier today, said
again tonight, america's work in iraq is not done. our white house correspondent savannah guthrie has more from the north lawn tonight. savannah, good evening. >> reporter: good evening to you, brian. the president wanted to emphasize this milestone, acknowledging the work isn't done, yet he said it is time to turn the page. he also wanted to highlight what the white house considers a campaign promise fulfilled. >> i am announcing that the american combat mission in iraq has ended. the iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country. >> reporter: the president has been visiting with troops today, and earlier this week at walter reid near washington, he's been visibly moved by those visits. tonight he took the time to thank the troops for their sacrifice. >> at every turn, america's men and women in uniform have served with courage and resolve.
as commander in chief i am very proud their service. like all americans, i am awed by their sacrifice, and by the sacrifices of their families. >> reporter: the president addressed the political divisions over going to the war in iraq in the first place, and he named his predecessor former president bush. >> i'm mindful that the iraq war has been a contentious issue at home here too, it's time to turn the page. this afternoon i spoke to former president george w. bush. it's well known that he and i disagreed about the war from its outset. yet no one can doubt president bush's support for our troops or his love of country and commitment to our security. as i've said, there are patriots who supported this war, and patriots who opposed it. >> the president talked at length about afghanistan, and made clear the commitment by the u.s. there, although the
president has sent more troops, is not open ended. >> next august we will begin a transition to afghan responsible beability. the pace of our troop reductions will be determined by conditions on the ground. and our support for afghanistan will endure. but make no mistake, this transition will begin because open ended war serves neither our interests nor the afghan people's. >> this was largely a speech about foreign policy. the president did talk about the economy, saying it was this country peace most urgent national priority. brian? >> savannah guthrie from the white house. thanks. in the seven plus years of the u.s. war in iraq, more than 4,400 american service members have died, more than 34,000 have been wounded or injured. and according to the state department, 150,000 iraqis have been killed, but other people put that number much higher,
a million or more. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel, as you know, has been reporting from iraq for years, living there all the while, since the beginning of the u.s. invasion. he's with us here in studio tonight. richard, watching the speech here, you noticed something glaringly missing? >> no mention of democracy. whatever happened to the idea that there would be a war in iraq, to find weapons of mass destruction. when that didn't happen, there would be a war in the middle east to spread democracy. that dream died tonight. there was no mention that this would create a broader middle east that was more stable, more democratic. how many times did we hear that speech from the bush administration. instead he thanked the troops and said, it's time to turn a page. that was the message. >> is there a short synopsis of your view of that country? >> i think it's in a real danger right now. there was a dictatorship that ruled brutally in iraq, and now you have a decentralized government that is corrupt and
very weak. it was probably the wrong system government that was placed there. democracy never flourished there and hadn't been able too deem with the problems that have been created over the last seven and a half years. >> richard engel, thank you, as always. five american troops killed by roadside bombs and gunfire. there have been 20 americans killed just since saturday. here on the home front at arlington national cemetery, the cost of the war. three families buried three sons, all of them marines, none older than 26 years of age. all of them killed this month in afghanistan. all buried, of course, with full military honors, laid to rest alongside the other veterans of this nation's wars. we told you last night about the arrest of two men who arrived in amsterdam on a flight from chicago. men authorities at first
suspected might have been conducting some sort of dry run for a terrorist attack by air. well, tonight officials here at home have backed off of that. they now say it looks like nothing more than a series of odd coincidences. our report from our justice correspondent pete williams. >> reporter: amateur video shows police arresting two men in amsterdam, arriving from chicago. dutch security officials stung by missing the would-be christmas day bomber when he passed through amsterdam were taking no chances this time. >> the men are held on suspicion of a criminal terrorist attack. >> reporter: u.s. officials say it all began sunday at the birmingham, alabama, airport with a legal permanent resident, al soofi on his way to visit relatives in yemen. in the checked bags, screeners found cell phones and watches taped together and a phone taped to a bottle of pepto-bismol. it looked suspicious, but no explosives were found and he was cleared for travel. he booked flights from
birmingham to chicago then to washington-dulles and on to amsterdam. but when he got to chicago, investigators say, he missed the dulles flight, so the airline put him on a direct flight to amsterdam while his suitcase flew on to dulles. it was intercepted when security officials realized al soofi was no longer flying with it. the second man in amsterdam had nothing suspicious found in his bag and was mistakenly thought to be flying with al soofi. tonight officials say they think the items were taped together to be given to separate relatives. they view this false alarm as proof that the system is working. pete williams, nbc news, at the department of homeland security. one of mexico's most ruthless and violent drug lords, a man responsible for smuggling thousands of pounds of cocaine into the united states behind bars tonight. he's an american, texas born, named edgar valdez villarreal named "the barbie" for his fair
complexion. he's running one of mexico's most dangerous cartels, both the mexican and u.s. governments had offered a $2 million reward for information leading to his ultimate arrest. when our broadcast continues here tonight, a big comeback nobody was rooting for. why are bed bugs back decades after they disappeared and what do we do now? an effort at making a difference in an economically depressed community you could call a striking success.
apologies up front here for all of you who consider this time of night the dinner hour and may be eating right now. this next story, while disgusting is growing in urgency and importance. today's "new york times" all but put out a special section on bed bugs. the city passed a new bed bug disclosure law today. but make no mistake, they are now a national health issue. from the east coast through hard hit ohio to the west. bed bugs are at epidemic proportions. we have an update on the fight tonight from nbc's mike taibbi. >> reporter: there's probably no one who knows more about bed bugs than entomologist lou sorkin of new york's museum of american history. >> it's feeding. >> i don't see anything. >> reporter: he's been collecting and studying them for decades, demonstrating by letting them feed on him, they're not known disease
carriers. if they were -- >> there would probably be more research on bed bugs and how to get rid of them. >> reporter: in fact, urban centers across the country that had once been overrun, almost got rid of them for good after world war ii until ddt and then other pesticides were banned. in new york city, for example, confirmed infestations jumped from 82 in 2004 to more than 4,000 last year. the big apple still tops a list put out by terminix of cities with the biggest bed bug problem, followed by philadelphia at number two. and at number three, detroit, that has seen whole buildings evacuated. but a surprise, four of the top 15 are in ohio. middle america. it's all fodder for psychiatric consultations -- >> it really is both a mystery, because you can't see them very well, particularly bed bugs, and also the sense of loss of control. >> reporter: -- and for late night comics. >> you folks applauding or trying to kill bed bugs? >> by the way, the scariest thing about bed bugs, no place is safe.
>> reporter: sorkin only sees a growing problem no one seems able to control. one that can be fought with pesticides, steam and frequent vacuuming. but that still leaves some people living with this, really. >> you wouldn't imagine residents have colonies as thick as this. >> yes. the person lying on the bed had all these bugs crawling on them. >> reporter: that much? >> that much. >> reporter: crawling and feeding their way across the country. mike taibbi, nbc news, new york. when we come back here tonight, extreme makeover, the white house edition.
difficult to find time to play with their kids at all. not so shocking, more than half the kids wish they had more quality time with their parents. plastic shopping bags may be about to go the way of public smoking in california. state lawmakers are set to vote on a plastic bag ban arguing the 19 billion of them that are used per year are bad for the environment and cost the state $25 million a year to dump in the landfills. the plastic bag industry has been furiously opposed to the bill, calling it a job killer. while the first family was on summer vacation, we now know what was going on back at the white house. the carpenters and rug people and paperhangers were busier than a paperhanger. and today, the redecorated oval office made its debut to mixed reviews, especially when compared with the old design. that's the old one. the new design is striking and almost den-like according to people who have seen it.
striped federal style wallpaper, that new beige rug bordered with famous quotes. the couches look living room comfortable, more normal as do the chairs. what a marked contrast to the clinton years, when it was big on color and stripes. except for changing the shape of the room, every president likes to put their stamp on the office. and the white house says no public money was spent on this redecorating. when we come back, how knocking down a whole bunch of pins is making a big difference for a lot of kids this summer.
time now for our "making a difference" report. from a city that's become an illustration of the collapse of so much of america's manufacturing economy. flint, michigan, suffered from hard times for decades now. but a new program involving an old pastime is making a difference for local kids by teaching them how to have a ball while they're at it. here is nbc's lee cowan. >> reporter: on a hot summer day in vehicle city, flint's richfield bowl is all revved up.
>> there you go. >> reporter: lanes are polished, shoes are sprayed. even bowling ball holes are drilled. all for small-thumbed customers who don't pay a dime. kids have been bowling free here every day for four months. part of a nationwide effort to make sure the country's economic downturn didn't land their summer's in the gutter. >> dollars are short, and the bowling operators stepped up and said, bring them in, let's enjoy the summer. >> reporter: at just this alley alone, 3,000 kids signed up. had each of them actually paid, it would have brought the owners more than a million dollars, money they forfeited in exchange for a smile. >> i'm excited to see how many kids came the first time, one or two in a family, and then the next time they brought half the neighborhood. >> reporter: flint's neighborhoods need an escape. when gm began downsizing, flint became the poster child of urban blight. unemployment still hovers around 14%.
at one school district, 92% of the kids are at or below the poverty line. >> they're not allowed to leave their home, go outside, in here they can bowl and have fun. >> reporter: but for some, picking up spares for free is more than just an economical good time. >> getting the pins down is the best. just getting the pins down. >> reporter: abbey jacobs is autistic. >> everything with her is about making her feel like she can do things. >> reporter: here, down the middle of a narrow, wooden lane, abbey found a path to confidence. lesson learned. >> sometimes you have to do your best, when it's really hard. so do your best. >> reporter: that is the kind of bowling most around here call truly a perfect game. lee cowan, nbc news, flint, michigan. >> do your best. she's right. that's our broadcast for this tuesday night. thank you for being here with
us. i'm brian williams. we'll be back on the air at 8:00 p.m. eastern time for the president's address on iraq. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening as well. good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com a firestorm of controversy tonight over firefighter layoffs in the south bay. good evening, everyone. >> san jose firefighters igniting a four-alarm fight tonight with city hall claiming that they have audiotapes that prove that city leaders kept crucial safety information from residents. information about the potential life and death consequences of